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Ontario, Saskatchewan pan Ottawa's mining plan

Provincial mining ministers say feds off base in tackling industry challenges

Whatever vision Ottawa is selling on the future of Canada's mining industry, Queen's Park isn't buying.

Ontario and Saskatchewan were the two provinces that refused to endorse the federal government's Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP), announced on the opening day of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's annual mining conference in Toronto, March 3.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi called his CMMP a "milestone" in Canadian mining history.

It'll be built around the tenets of investment attraction, economic inclusion of Indigenous people, protecting the environment, supporting innovation, promoting sustainability, and Canada playing a leadership role in the global mining industry.

The details on how this vision becomes reality will be discussed at an Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference in July.

"In a world increasingly looking for sustainably and responsibly sourced mineral products, Canada is unmatched. As global demand for sustainably developed resources grows, Canada must continue to capitalize on its natural and human advantage to ensure our competitiveness in global markets," said Sohi in the release.

However, a joint response from Ontario's and Saskatchewan's mining ministers indicated the feds' strategy does nothing to tackle the challenges faced by the industry, and therefore, their provinces can't endorse it.

Both Greg Rickford, Ontario's minister of energy, Northern development and mines, and Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan's energy and resources minister, pointed to high power costs, Ottawa's cap-and-trade carbon tax, and the Trudeau government's bill to overhaul environmental assessments of large resource projects (Bill C-69) as hampering the Canadian mining industry's global competitiveness.

"Ontario, Saskatchewan and the mining industry are concerned about how misguided federal policy will stand in the way of progress. Energy-intensive sectors, such as mining, are at great risk of suffering from skyrocketing energy costs," the ministers replied in a joint statement.

Rickford and Eyre said the federal government's track record in trade doesn't give them comfort that a national plan can be crafted to allow Canadian resources to access international markets. 

Both vowed to fight Ottawa's carbon tax program and called Bill C-69 a project killer that will enable envirornmental assessment to be used as "weapons against future development."

Neither minister mentioned, in their statement, if they will be attending the CMMP forum this summer.